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UK and EU warned against using musicians as ‘political football’ over visas

by Lamiat Sabin
Parliamentary Reporter

MUSICIANS are warning against performers and their road crews becoming “a political football being kicked around by the UK and the EU” in discussions over visa-free touring.

The Musicians Union (MU) is calling for performers to be exempted from the work-permit requirements imposed by European Union countries now that Britain has left the bloc.

SNP MP Pete Wishart, in an urgent Commons question, called on Culture Minister Caroline Dinenage to account for the impact of the Brexit deal on touring musicians.

Ms Dinenage said that EU proposals would have covered ad-hoc performances only, would not have applied to technicians and other crew members and would not have exempted musicians from needing work permits.

She added that the EU proposals would also have been incompatible with the British government’s ending of freedom of movement as they would have enshrined visa-free stays for EU citizens in Britain.

Her Labour counterpart Alison McGovern asked her to urgently reopen negotiations with the bloc and to also publish details of the proposals and counterproposals.

Ms Dinenage confirmed that if the EU was willing to consider Britain’s proposal — which would remove the need for permits, including for crew members — she would re-enter talks.

MU general secretary Horace Trubridge said that the government’s plans were based on MU proposals for a “musician’s passport.”

He said: “We really need to see the details of the proposals made by the EU and the UK’s counteroffer in order to identify where the problems lie.

“It would be a tragedy if the livelihoods of so many performers and ancillary workers were to end up as a political football being kicked around by the UK and the EU.

“I urge the Secretary of State [Oliver Dowden] to step up and secure a deal that enables frictionless work-permit and carnet-free touring for UK and EU performers.”

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